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Pendennis Castle

pendennis castle

Exploring Falmouth’s Defensive Past at Pendennis Castle

Standing guard over the Carrick Roads estuary in Falmouth for over 450 years, the impressive artillery fort of Pendennis Castle formed a key stronghold defending Cornwall and England beyond from invasion threats. Spanning the turbulent periods from Henry VIII to World War II, today this well-preserved fortress opens a window into the region’s rich defensive heritage.

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Our guide describes everything families need to craft an entertaining day out uncovering Falmouth’s frontline role aided by costumed interpreters, interactive displays and sweeping coastal panoramas from Pendennis Castle’s strategic battlements.

pendennis castle

Getting to Pendennis Castle

Pendennis Castle occupies a peninsula of land below Falmouth town itself. Use postcode TR11 4LP then follow brown signs to the castle car park.

By Car – Exit the A39 towards Falmouth from Truro. At Treluswell Roundabout turn left downhill following signs to The Docks. Continue past the passenger ferry terminal then turn right up Castle Drive to dedicated parking.

Pendennis Castle Car Park – The car park is on Castle Drive – follow signs past ‘Ships & Castles’ Leisure Centre. There is no parking charge. Disabled parking is available in the castle grounds. It is worth notihg that disabled visitors can be dropped off at the keep entrance before parking in the disabled parking bays behind the Royal Garrison Artillery Barracks.

By Train – Falmouth has several train stations however Falmouth Town best serves Pendennis Castle being a 15 minute walk away. Simply follow signs to The Moor then Castle Drive around the headland.

By Ferry – A seasonal passenger ferry runs Easter to October shuttling between Falmouth’s Town Quay and St Mawes across the estuary. The castle lies a short walk from the terminal.

Pendennis Castle Entry Prices and Opening Times

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As a English Heritage property, Pendennis Castle opens:

April – September 10am – 6pm October, 10am – 5pm | November – March 10am – 4pm. Note seasonal changes may apply to guard talks, events etc

Admission: Adults £12.50 | Concessions £11 (Senior, student etc) | Children £7.50 (Aged 5-17)

pendennis castle in falmouth

What to See and Do at Pendennis Castle

This extensive hilltop fortress packs a full day of exploring across multiple levels and structures punctuated by costumed interpreters bringing the site’s long history colourfully to life.

Tour the Extensive Ramparts and Gun Fortifications – Kids love scrambling over the scattered remains of Pendennis Castle’s once formidable defences including looming lookout towers, underground magazines burrowing deep into cliffsides and retired cannons still standing guard where coastal views open up.

Interactive displays recount tales of Spanish Armadas, Civil Wars, smugglers and even German U-boats stalked by battalions manning this strategic fort. Crenellated castle walls snake for over half a mile so bring sturdy shoes!

Venture Inside the Restored Guardhouse – The ground floor of the Tudor Guardhouse found just past the main gateway provides hands-on activities for younger kids to spark imaginations. They can handle replica pistols and muskets appreciating their weight and unwieldy nature or try lifting a fully laden Civil War knapsack to understand strains upon marching soldiers of years past.

Costumed interpreters double as army drill sergeants putting tiny recruits through their paces with military drills on the parade ground outside. Expect lots of smiles all round!

Time-Travel Through Centuries at the Garrison – Pop into Soldier’s Barracks near the Garrison Cafe to uncover details of those stationed at Pendennis over its five century lifespan – everyone from Napoleonic redcoats to World War II home guard volunteers. Brass bands, radio broadcasts and interactive displays narrate how troops and families once lived day-to-day within these sober granite walls.

Kids can also explore officers’ quarters preserved intact to the 1920s domestic era then contrast those comforts against cramped conditions enlisted soldiers endured in adjoining dormitories as military class divides are brought starkly to life.

pendennis castle in falmouth

Pendennis Castle History

The castle was built by order of King Henry VIII in the 16th century as part of a defensive strategy to protect England from potential invasions by the Catholic powers of Europe.

Construction of Pendennis Castle began in 1540 under the supervision of Sir John Killigrew, a prominent local landowner. The castle was strategically positioned to guard the entrance to the Carrick Roads, a large natural harbour near Falmouth. Its primary purpose was to defend against potential attacks by the French and Spanish navies, who were frequent threats during the Tudor period.

Throughout its history, Pendennis Castle played a crucial role in various conflicts. During the English Civil War in the 17th century, the castle was held for the Royalists and withstood a long siege by Parliamentary forces. The stronghold ultimately surrendered in 1646, marking a significant event in the course of the war.

In subsequent centuries, Pendennis Castle underwent several modifications and improvements. During the 19th century, advancements in artillery prompted the construction of new gun batteries to enhance the castle’s defensive capabilities. The castle continued to serve a military function during both World Wars, with additional installations and fortifications added to meet the changing demands of modern warfare.

Pendennis Castle is not only a symbol of military history but also a testament to the architectural and engineering skills of its time. The castle’s strategic location, overlooking the sea and providing commanding views of the surrounding area, highlights its importance as a defensive stronghold.

drone view of pendennis castele

Don’t Miss the Castle’s Epic Views

However the undisputed highlight comes from soaking up Pendennis Castle’s breathtaking vantage point high above the Fal Estuary enjoying panoramas stretching up the wooded River Fal towards Truro in one direction and out across the English Channel the other. Photograph opportunities abound!

Calm clear days reveal St Mawes Castle standing sentinel on the opposite headland alongside cloaked smuggling coves, flash passenger ferries and enormous ships lining Falmouth’s deepwater docks. Just beware the exposed location means it gets very blustery so bring windproof layers!

Pendennis Castle Restaurant

The Royal Garrison Artillery Barracks near the main gate offers hot snacks, Cornish cream teas and cakes alongside filling lunches like homemade pasties or fish goujons for restoring energy levels after hours of castle adventures. Their outdoor terrace allows alfresco dining with sights of the coastline when weather allows too.

Additionally the quaint waterside village of St Mawes linked by passenger ferry makes a picturesque alternative lunch spot to escape the worst coastal winds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dogs allowed at Pendennis Castle? – Yes, well behaved dogs on leads are welcome all around the castle

Is there a gift shop? – Yes, the castle has a gist shop which sells a selection of Tudor, World War II and castle themed books, gifts and souvenirs

How long do we need for a visit to Pendennis Castle? – Most people find that a couple of hours is a good time to spend at the Castle.

Nearby Family Attractions

Combine exploring Pendennis Castle’s centuries of defences with visiting these family-friendly Falmouth area attractions:

  • Truro Cathedral – The centerpiece of any visit to Truro, this impressive Gothic-style cathedral has awe-inspiring architecture and many decorative details to discover. Go on a guided tour to learn more.
  • Falmouth Town – This historic port town neighbours Falmouth Harbour with an array of visitor attractions such as boat trips, watersports, beachside dining, maritime museums, galleries and shops clustered around the bustling Events Square.
  • St Mawes Castle – Take the short ferry across from Falmouth to this picturesque coastal village with brightly coloured houses rising up to a historic fortified castle with stunning views across the estuary entrance.
  • Trebah Gardens – 26 acres of magnificent sub-tropical gardens containing rare exotic plants with a stunning coastal backdrop. Highlights include the hydrolea bed waterfall, beach garden leading to the Helford River.
  • National Maritime Museum – Located in Falmouth Docks, this museum celebrates Cornwall’s maritime heritage through hands-on exhibits about fishing, boat building, sailing and discovery voyages around the world.
  • Gyllyngvase Beach – Easily accessible from Falmouth or Pendennis Castle, this Blue Flag sandy beach has a lively vibe with beachside cafés and watersport activities in summer with views across the bay.
  • Glendurgan Garden – Owned by the National Trust, these gardens specialise in exotic plants from the Southern Hemisphere and Asia, arranged amongst a stunning coastal valley setting overlooking the Helford River near Falmouth.
  • Swanpool Beach – Found on the way to Pendennis from Falmouth centre, this sheltered sand and shingle cove offers safe bathing waters in a nature reserve abundant with wildlife.

Staying at Pendennis Castle

Staying at Callie’s Cottage within the grounds of Pendennis Castle is a unique and immersive experience, blending modern comfort with historical ambiance. This charming accommodation, named after Sir John Killigrew’s wife, offers guests the opportunity to sleep within the castle walls and soak in the rich history that surrounds them. The cottage provides a cozy retreat with period features and contemporary amenities, ensuring a comfortable stay. Guests wake up to stunning views of the Cornish coastline and the picturesque Falmouth harbor.

Immersed in the castle’s historic atmosphere, visitors have exclusive access to the grounds after hours, allowing for serene walks along the battlements and a genuine sense of living within the castle’s storied past. Callie’s Cottage at Pendennis Castle offers a truly memorable and enchanting escape, where the allure of history meets the comforts of a well-appointed and characterful retreat.

callies cottage pendennis castle

Whether you’re a military history buff or just looking to tire the kids out somewhere new, climbing through passages and over battlements at this sprawling coastal castle will make for an unforgettable family day out immersed in Cornwall’s frontline heritage.

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